Donald Trump says Sudan will be removed from terrorism list

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Sudan has agreed to pay compensation for victims of the 1998 embassy bombing in Nairobi. (AFP/File)
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President Donald Trump on Monday said Sudan will be removed from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism, a move that would open the door for the country to get the international loans and aid that are essential for reviving its battered economy. (Reuters/File Photo)
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Updated 20 October 2020

Donald Trump says Sudan will be removed from terrorism list

  • The decision was contingent on Sudan following through on its agreement to pay $335 million to US terror victims and families
  • Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok welcomed the announcement

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump on Monday said Sudan will be removed from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism if it follows through on its pledge to pay $335 million to American terror victims and their families.
The move would open the door for the African country to get international loans and aid needed to revive its battered economy and rescue the country’s transition to democracy. The announcement, just two weeks ahead of the US presidential election, also comes as the Trump administration works to get other Arab countries, such as Sudan, to join the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain's recent recognition of Israel.
Delisting Sudan from the state sponsors blacklist is a key incentive for the Sudanese government to normalize relations with Israel. Trump's announcement came after Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin traveled to Bahrain to cement the Gulf state’s recognition of the Jewish state.
Trump tweeted: “GREAT news! New government of Sudan, which is making great progress, agreed to pay $335 MILLION to US terror victims and families. Once deposited, I will lift Sudan from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list. At long last, JUSTICE for the American people and BIG step for Sudan!"
Sudan has agreed to pay compensation for victims of the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, attacks conducted by Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda network while bin Laden was living in Sudan.
Gen. Abdel-Farrah Burhan, head of Sudan’s ruling sovereign council, welcomed Trump’s announcement as a “constructive step.” He said in a tweet the removal would come “in recognition of the historic change that has taken place in Sudan.”
Sudan is on a fragile path to democracy after a popular uprising last year led the military to overthrow autocratic leader Omar al-Bashir in April 2019. A military-civilian government now rules the country, with elections possible in late 2022.
Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok also welcomed the announcement.
“We are about to get rid of the heaviest legacy of Sudan’s previous, defunct regime," Hamdok tweeted.
Once the compensation money has been deposited, Trump is to sign an order removing Sudan from the terrorism list, on which it has languished under heavy American sanctions for 27 years.
Congress is then expected to act to restore Sudan’s sovereign immunity, which would effectively stop future compensation claims from being filed against it inUS courts. Meanwhile, Sudan is to begin the process of normalizing relations with Israel, possibly with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu joining a congratulatory phone call between Trump and Hamdok.
Sudanese officials have been negotiating the terms of removing the country from the list for more than a year, but the US effort to repair relations with Sudan dates to the end of President Barack Obama’s administration, which initiated the process in January 2017.
The “state sponsors of terrorism” designation is one of the US government’s most effective sanctions tools and bars virtually all non-humanitarian U.S. transactions with countries on it. It was created in 1979 to punish nations that fund or otherwise support terrorist acts. With Sudan’s removal, only Iran, North Korea and Syria will remain on the list.
The designation of Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism dates back to the 1990s, when Sudan briefly hosted bin Laden and other wanted militants. Sudan was also believed to have served as a pipeline for Iran to supply weapons to Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.
The transitional authorities are desperate to have sanctions lifted that are linked to its listing by the US as a terror sponsor. That would be a key step toward ending its isolation and rebuilding its battered economy, which has plunged in recent months, threatening to destabilize the political transition to democracy.


14 dead as twin blasts rock historic Afghan city Bamiyan

Updated 24 November 2020

14 dead as twin blasts rock historic Afghan city Bamiyan

  • Blast brings end to years of calm in the isolated town — famous for ancient Buddhist heritage
  • Violence has surged in recent months in Afghanistan despite peace talks

KABUL: At least 14 people were killed in central Afghanistan on Tuesday when two blasts ripped through the historic city of Bamiyan, home to many members of the mainly Shiite Hazara ethnic minority, officials said.
The carnage brought to an end years of calm in the isolated town — famous for its ancient Buddhist heritage — that has avoided the sort of large-scale attacks commonplace elsewhere in the war-torn country.
The twin bombing marked the latest big attack in Afghanistan, where violence has surged in recent months even as Taliban and Afghan government negotiators are meeting for peace talks in the Qatari capital Doha.
“Fourteen people have been killed and 45 more wounded in two (bomb) explosions,” Bamiyan police chief Zabardast Safi told AFP, adding that a traffic policeman was among those killed.
The explosives were placed in two separate locations, Bamiyan police spokesman Reza Yosufi said, adding that two suspects had been arrested.
Interior ministry spokesman Tariq Arian confirmed the toll.
“We are investigating the deadly explosions in Bamiyan,” he said.
“This is an unforgivable crime.”
No group immediately claimed the blasts, and the Taliban denied involvement.
The explosions occurred in front of a market and near a hospital in Bamiyan, locals resident Anwar Saadatyar told AFP.
“When I reached the market... there was still blood and body parts everywhere. The blast occurred when people were busy shopping,” he said in a phone interview.
At the second site of the blast near the hospital, most of the casualties were university students, Saadatyar said.
“I visited the hospital later and saw people crying for their relatives who were killed or wounded in the explosions,” he said.
“There were so many wounded people that doctors didn’t know who to treat first. I will never forget that scene.”
Bamiyan is perhaps best known for the giant Buddha statues that once were carved into walls outside the city.
In 2001, the Taliban drew international revulsion when they blew up the centuries-old figures as they went on a rampage against Afghanistan’s rich pre-Islamic cultural heritage.
With its snowy backdrop and frequent blue skies, Bamiyan is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and history buffs keen to explore a network of ancient caves housing temples, monasteries and Buddhist paintings.
The province is home mainly to the Hazara community, which over the years has been targeted by Sunni extremists such as the Daesh group and the Taliban in the 1990s.
In cities such as Kabul, Hazaras have seen repeated attacks in their neighborhoods, including a brutal daylight assault in the capital in May on a hospital maternity ward that left several mothers dead.
In the past six months the Taliban have carried out 53 suicide attacks and detonated 1,250 explosive devices that have left 1,210 civilians dead and 2,500 wounded, the interior ministry said last week.